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Monthly Archives: June 2020

Alabama Securities Commission filed a Cease and Desist Order Against John Paul Maroney and two of his Florida companies

On June 25th, 2020, the Alabama Securities Commission filed a Cease and Desist Order against John Paul Maroney and his companies Harbor City Capital Corp. and Harbor City Digital Ventures, Inc. Based out of Melbourne, FL, Maroney advertises unrealistic returns on investments that, in fact, do not exist. The Securities Exchange Commission has no records of any of Maroney’s companies or the bonds he offers; the Alabama Securities Commission does not have any records either. Maroney is not registered as a broker or investment advisor in the State of Alabama. Maroney advertised an 18% annual return on investment, along with other fraudulent investments.

What is most surprising about this case is that despite the Cease and Desist Order, Harbor City Capital’s website is still live and soliciting investments. The website currently lists a bond titled HCCF-4.  HCCF-4 guarantees a 12% return on the one-year bond with no risk to the principal. Harbor City Capital Corp. is not listed in Sunbiz as a Florida entity.  The website states, “Pocket 12% Yield With ZERO Risk To Your Principal.”  So where are our regulators when we need them?

If you wish to discuss any securities related question, please contact David A. Weintraub, P.A., 7805 SW 6th Court, Plantation, FL  33324.  By phone: 954.693.7577 or 800.718.1422.


Stockbroker Exploits Elderly WWII Veteran

On June 12, 2020, the SEC filed a Complaint alleging multiple instances of fraud against Frederick M. Stow, a Tennessee-based broker at Raymond James & Associates, Inc. The SEC alleges that Stow stole over $900,000 from one of his clients, a World War II. The elder exploitation victim was Stow’s client for nearly 40 years, electing to remain with Stow whenever Stow relocated to another firm. Between October 2015 and April 2019, Stow sold securities in his client’s IRA and subsequently forged wire transfer Letters of Authorization in order to transfer the sales proceeds into his own account. The client passed away in March 2019 at the age of 98. Following his passing, the executor of the estate repeatedly requested explanations for the suspicious wire transfers. Stow then confessed his theft to his supervisor and was terminated by Raymond James. The SEC also alleges that Stow stole $32,000 from a separate client in April 2019.

Elder exploitation of this nature is not uncommon in the financial services industry.  Numerous stockbrokers have been imprisoned as a result of their greed.  It is only because of an estate executor’s due diligence that this theft was discovered.  For ideas on how you can help your friends or relatives avoid being a victim of this type of crime, feel free to call me.

If you wish to discuss any securities related question, please contact David A. Weintraub, P.A., 7805 SW 6th Court, Plantation, FL  33324.  By phone: 954.693.7577 or 800.718.1422.


On June 9, 2020, the SEC filed a Complaint alleging that Jason C. Nielsen operated a “pump and dump” scheme, thereby defrauding other investors. Nielsen knowingly posted false statements on investment forums in regard to the stock of a biotechnology company, Arrayit Corporation. A “pump and dump” scheme is when an investor buys stock in a given company and subsequently lies about the company’s affairs in order to “pump” up the value of his investment, and then proceeds to “dump” his shares after their value has gone up. Nielsen allegedly made approximately $137,000 from this scheme.

Nielsen, through his posts on investment forums, proclaimed that Arrayit had developed a COVID-19 blood test and that the test had gotten emergency approval from the FDA. Neither was true. Nielsen owned about 10% of Arrayit’s common stock. His false and/or misleading claims defrauded investors. On top of this, Nielsen also allegedly utilized a tactic known as “spoofing,” where an investor places orders for large amounts of a company’s stock and then cancels them, creating the appearance of an increase in demand.

The SEC charged Nielsen with violating the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws, and seeks permanent injunctions, civil money penalties, a penny stock bar, and disgorgement with prejudgment interest.

If you wish to discuss any securities related question, please contact David A. Weintraub, P.A., 7805 SW 6th Court, Plantation, FL  33324.  By phone: 954.693.7577 or 800.718.1422.

SEC Awards Record Payout of Nearly $50 Million to Whistleblower

On June 4, 2020 the SEC announced a nearly $50 million whistleblower award to an individual who alerted the agency of firsthand observations of misconduct by a company that resulted in a successful enforcement action that returned a significant amount of money to harmed investors.  This is the largest amount ever awarded to one individual under the SEC’s whistleblower program.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has awarded more than $500 million to whistleblowers since the inception of the agency’s whistleblower program in 2011.   This award is the largest individual whistleblower award since the inauguration of the program.   The whistleblower program was established by Congress to incentivize whistleblowers with specific, timely and credible information about federal securities laws violations to report to the SEC.  The Commission emphasizes, that no money has been taken or withheld from harmed investors to pay whistleblower awards.  The informant’s award is based on a percentage of the money collected in fees and sanctions paid by the violators they uncovered, and if they provided the SEC with original, timely, and credible information that leads to a successful enforcement action.  Whistleblower awards can range from 10% to 30% of the money collected when the monetary sanctions exceed $1 million.

As set forth in the Dodd-Frank Act, the SEC protects the confidentiality of whistleblowers and does not discloses information that could reveal a whistleblower’s identity.   Whistleblowers have proven to be a critical tool in the enforcement arsenal to combat fraud and protect investors.  If you believe you have information of a material nature that would be helpful to the SEC’s mission, David A. Weintraub, P.A. may be able to represent you in connection with your whistleblower claim.


Merrill Lynch Sanctioned By FINRA

On June 4, 2020, FINRA issued a press release detailing wrongdoing in the handling of mutual funds by Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc and the resulting settlement.  FINRA found that Merrill Lynch did not have an adequate system for ensuring that customers received mutual fund sales charge waivers and fee rebates.  Customers were entitled to these funds through rights of reinstatement offered by mutual fund companies. Mutual fund companies often offer customers waivers on up-front sales charges when they repurchase shares of either the same fund that they invested in before, or another fund in the same family. Merrill Lynch customers paid approximately $6 million in improper sales charges and fees between April 2011 and April 2017. The firm relied on a rudimentary alert system to determine whether or not a customer was owed waivers/rebates, but it was nowhere near adequate.

The up-front sales charges which Merrill Lynch customers were improperly charged for typically go to Merrill Lynch’s brokers, who have an incentive to charge customers as much as they can. In this instance, FINRA lauded Merrill Lynch for its openness in its investigation, but this does not always happen. As a result of its violations, Merrill Lynch agreed to a censure and approximately $7.25 million in restitution plus interest.

If you have not hired an attorney and wish to discuss any securities related question, please contact David A. Weintraub, P.A., 7805 SW 6th Court, Plantation, FL  33324.  By phone: 954.693.7577 or 800.718.1422.